5 Powerful Realisations About Goal-Setting

When it comes to long-term goals, I’ve found I typically don’t accomplish what I set out to do because over time I lose momentum, focus and direction. I’m sure you can relate.

That’s why this year I’ve adopted a new approach of working in 90-day cycles to set action items with deadlines and scheduled regular check-ins to measure my progress.

I recently did my quarter 2 review and found it quite insightful. While defining my focus areas for the next little while, I looked at what I set out to achieve at the beginning of the year. Although I may not be where I want to be, I have undoubtedly made progress, which has made me realise 5 things about setting and achieving goals.

  1. Having a clear vision and focus works: If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to ever get there? Being intentional is the only way you’ll see real results. While reminding myself of my goals, I have realised that I’ve made more progress than I thought. That never would’ve been possible without knowing what I’m working towards and having actionable tasks with set deadlines.
  2. Reflection is critical: As difficult as it is to set time aside to review your progress, looking at where you are, where you want to be and assessing whether you’re on track or not is so important. I have absolutely seen the benefit of making regular reviews a habit and urge you to at least give it a try.
  3. Any progress is progress: I may not be as far as I would like to be, but I’ve certainly made progress and for that I am proud. None of us can achieve our goals overnight, so incremental progression should be acknowledged and celebrated.
  4. Holding yourself accountable is key: I am responsible for my progress. My vision of where I want to be is only attainable if I put in the time and effort. At the end of the day, I am the only one who has the power to get me closer to my goal, and if I don’t then I live with the consequences. We all know how easy it is to make excuses, but making excuses gets us nowhere and we pay the price.
  5. You can’t do everything at once: As much as we’d like to have it all, it’s impossible to expect to be flourishing in every area of your life. Of course, this is the end goal, but being realistic about what is possible given your current circumstances is crucial. Choose key areas to focus on and have secondary goals to work towards, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t making as much progress as you’d like. Physical and mental energy are important considerations. Idle time is necessary to recharge.

We all have aspirations of what we want our lives to be and areas we’d like to improve to get closer to that ideal. Having a vision is important, but having a clear plan, tracking your progress and adjusting where necessary is the only effective way of actually achieving what you set out to do.

We’re halfway through the year – are you on track?

Additional Reading

How To Join A Conversation Without Being Rude

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Suits and Sneakers talk – a forum where business leaders share key experiences that have shaped their careers. There were three main speakers, but the guest speaker that I found gave the most valuable presentation was 947’s Anele Mdoda.

The focus of Anele’s talk was mostly about her career and, being a radio and TV personality, it centred around conversation tactics. Although I enjoyed her whole talk, there was one line that really resonated with me – “When speaking to someone else, be as interested as you are interesting.”

This really struck a chord with me because so often we get so caught up in our own lives that we focus on ourselves and forget to shift focus to others when engaging socially.

A lot of what Anele spoke about linked to emotional intelligence (EQ). Put simply, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. So basically, it’s about being aware of your own emotions as well as those of others.

This was an overarching theme in Anele’s talk as she shed light on how having EQ has been crucial in the success of her career. I think this is an incredible lesson in dealing with people in any situation as it forces us to think more analytically, which gives us perspective.

I’ve thought a lot about that over the past few weeks and so I thought it would be helpful to put together a few points that I believe will help in knowing how to engage with others.

1. Know when to join a conversation: It’s usually perfectly acceptable to tactfully and naturally join a conversation if you truly feel you could add value to what they’re saying. But before you do, take a moment to think about if what you’re going to say is really going to add value from their perspective, or if it’s more about you wanting to be heard. If it’s simply because you want to have your say for your own reasons, it’s more often than not a bad idea and will likely be seen as rude. Just because you can hear a conversation, it doesn’t mean you’re invited to participate.

2. Know how to join a conversation: There’s a difference between joining a conversation and hijacking a conversation. There’s nothing wrong with being sociable, but know when you’re being friendly and when you’re being intrusive. If you’re compelled to add to the discussion, remember you’re essentially an uninvited guest to their conversation. Keep this in mind and don’t steal the show or overstay your welcome.

3. Know how to converse: A conversation is give and take. It cannot be all take. If you’re going to chew someone’s ear off about your life or views and not let them get a word in edgewise, know that they are going get bored very quickly and likely leave that conversation feeling resentful. Don’t be selfish. Just like you have experiences and stories to share, so do they so give them the opportunity to share them with you. No matter how mundane you think they may be, everyone wants to be heard, so if you aren’t willing to listen, don’t engage.

4. Know your audience: Just because you want to say something, it doesn’t mean you should. Being able to know what is appropriate to say in different social settings is critical in mastering conversation etiquette. Be aware of who you’re talking to and what their expectations and views may be. There is a line – don’t cross it.

5. Know how to be present: It’s very easy to see how much someone respects you and what you have to say by the amount of attention they give you while you’re speaking. So be present in the conversation and give them your undivided attention. Easy ways to show you’re interested is don’t be on your phone and make eye contact to show you’re engaged.

6. Know when to get out: Part of having EQ is knowing when to leave a conversation. It requires more attention and awareness of others rather than yourself. If awkward silence starts to happen, the reaction isn’t necessarily to talk more; it may be your cue to leave. Similarly, if you notice their eyes wandering or their body language gets anxious or fidgety, it’s time to wrap things up. Again, it’s about being aware of how the other person or people feel and respecting their time.

As social beings, we enjoy speaking and connecting with others, but as with anything in life, there’s a way to do it. Engaging with others is an art and not everyone is innately predisposed or aware of what is and is not appropriate. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are key. Any social interaction should be an exchange so be mindful of how much you’re talking and how much you’re giving others a chance to be heard. As Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

My Twitter War #YouTubeZA

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably would’ve seen the Twar that I was involved in last week.

For the past few weeks, @MickyCost has adopted the #YouTubeZA hashtag to start a Twitter chat. The theme for each week is voted for largely by South African YouTubers, and Michael tweets specific questions that people reply to.

These conversations have been taking place for several weeks and while spreading awareness that there is a community of YouTubers in South Africa is needed, I didn’t see any tangible support or change extending beyond Twitter. While this was my opinion, I wanted to get an indication of how others felt and so I created a poll asking them if they’d seen a change. And let’s just say I ruffled some feathers…

#YouTubeZA Fantomdan

Despite not voicing my opinion in the poll, numerous people saw it as an attack on the initiative and Michael (who also took it personally). I kept reiterating that I simply asked an objective question that was open for anyone to answer and I was not criticising the intentions of the chat. That didn’t stop the onslaught but I wasn’t afraid to share my opinion when confronted and that made me quite unpopular.

I knew the poll would be disruptive, which was kind of the point. If we aren’t thinking critically about what we’re doing and the conversation doesn’t lead to action then what’s the point?

Truth be told, I don’t believe that the #YouTubeZA conversation has amounted to anything more than a Twitter chat, which is disappointing. To my mind, the hashtag should be used to not only spread awareness but to act as a way of YouTubers connecting and sharing each other’s work. What I (and multiple others I have spoken to) have found is that people are participating in the Tuesday Twitter conversations and that’s where it ends. This suggests that people are simply using the chat as leverage to be discovered or learn from others.

What’s funny is that the results of the poll showed that 57% of people who voted felt the #YouTubeZA chat was nothing more than a weekly conversation so I’m clearly not alone. Despite that, I was attacked directly and indirectly because I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinion on the matter and chose to stand by my convictions.

Take Aways

  • Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Having integrity means you aren’t always going to be everyone’s favourite, and this week reminded me that it’s okay to be challenging.
  • If you’re going to be bold enough to share your opinion, be prepared to be challenged. Hopefully, you are clued up enough on the subject before adding your commentary but either way, be prepared to engage in a debate.
  • Knowing when and when not to engage is so important in all aspects of life. Not every confrontation deserves a response, especially on social media.
  • Be open to debate, but have the courage to stand by your convictions when challenged in an analytical, mature and composed manner.
  • Know who matters and whose opinions should really matter. We all have opinions and particularly on social media we feel entitled to voice them. In doing so we open ourselves up to criticism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as sometimes it’s good to have your point of view challenged. This can either lead to your beliefs being altered or reaffirmed. Knowing whose opinions to consider or take seriously is key to forming sound points of view.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world. The onus is on us to work towards the vision we want to see. You are setting yourself up for disappointment by expecting others to do more, so it is on us to do what we can with what we have and not rely on others to bring about change.
  • Emotional intelligence is a thing. Not everyone has it, but self-awareness and being accountable of how you feel is vital when navigating conflict in any setting.

What are your thoughts? Has your viewpoint ever been challenged? How did you respond and would you react differently now? Let me know.

 

Bullies in the Workplace

There’s a general misconception that bullying takes place on school grounds or is something only children and teenagers experience. This is simply not true as bullying can happen at any stage of your life in a number of environments, especially your place of work. What’s more is you’ve probably witnessed or been a victim of bullies in the workplace without even knowing it.

I have experienced intimidation in the workplace myself but only recently realised that it was actually a form of bullying. Now that I’ve identified it, I will never be a victim again because I know that behaviour is unacceptable. And so I felt compelled to research the subject to educate others about how to identify it and how to deal with these situations.

How to Identify Bullying

The nature of a business environment is generally stressful and so it can sometimes be difficult to identify bullying. There is bound to be disagreement, criticism and staff with more authority calling employees out on poor performance for example. This is all acceptable on the condition that it is legal and does not violate another individual’s fundamental human rights. Verbal abuse, sabotage, humiliating or intimating another employee in any way is seen as bullying.

Types of Bullying

There are 4 main types of bullying, i.e. physical, verbal, relational and cyberbullying. While some of these are less prevalent in a professional environment, there are cases of all types happening every single day.

  1. Physical Bullying: This is the most well-known form of bullying and unlike the other types of bullying, it is the easiest to identify and therefore tends to be less prevalent in the workplace. It is often thought of as physically harming someone else, which is certainly a form of physical bullying, but it can also be physically intimidating someone. It does not have to be violent.
  2. Verbal Bullying: Relentless insults to hurt, belittle or demean another person and their attributes in a threatening or disrespectful manner is known as verbal bullying. This is one of the most common forms of bullying in a work environment and is typically between an employee and someone in a more senior position, but can happen between colleagues as well.
  3. Relational Bullying: This form of bullying is more difficult to identify but is probably the most prevalent in the workplace. Relational bullying, or emotional bullying as it is also known, is social manipulation to emotionally hurt someone or their social standing. This is often for the purpose of the bully getting ahead by controlling or demeaning others.
  4. Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is any form of online communication that is of a threatening or intimidating nature. This includes social media, emails or text messages sent to or about another person.

How to Deal With A Workplace Bully

Standing up to bulliesBullying is not always intentional so being tactful in your approach is crucial. Stand up for yourself but do not retaliate. Not only is it unprofessional, but fighting fire with fire will have a negative impact on your character, which is likely to result in the matter not being taken seriously. You also run the risk of being seen as the perpetrator or a part of the problem. Instead, when the incident occurs, if in an appropriate setting, firmly tell the person that their behaviour is unacceptable. If it is not the right setting, keep your composure and take them aside afterwards to express your point of view in a calm and respectful way. Once you’ve indicated where the line is they’ll hopefully get the idea and stop.

Remember that your response should not be aggressive so keep your emotions in check and hold yourself in a professional manner at all times. The end goal should be resolution and not dominance.

If you are unable to resolve the matter between yourselves and their behaviour does not improve, consider reporting the matter to your supervisor or Human Resources Manager who should be equipt to mitigate and resolve the issue.

In some cases, the presence of a more senior representative may be necessary to facilitate the conversation. Bear in mind that this is seen as an escalation, so it is imperative that you use your discretion and ensure that you have attempted to work it out before reporting the issue.

Should You Step In If You Are Not the Victim?

Bullying victim at workWe have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to not tolerate any form of victimisation. While it is favourable that the victim confronts the perpetrator, some people shy away from conflict or are unable to stand up for themselves. I believe it is our civil duty to intervene if we are convicted to do so. Depending on the situation, confronting the bully in the moment may be the best approach. Alternatively, making them aware that their behaviour is inappropriate in a personal conversation may be more effective. Either way, treat the situation with sensitivity and ensure you have the best interest of the victim and company in mind.

Empower Yourself

Derogatory comments from a coworker or boss about someone else’s appearance, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. are simply unacceptable. While poor leadership, an unfavourable culture or ineffective policies may not help, eradicating bullying is certainly not unattainable. Know when to stand up, for yourself or others, and be brave enough to speak out against inappropriate interpersonal behaviour.

The Workplace Bullying Institute has a wealth of resources on the topic to help employees and employers combat bullies in the workplace. They have spent years researching the subject and have numerous articles and videos for free on their website. Whether or not you’re a victim of bullying, I urge you to educate yourself on the matter if not for yourself, for someone else who may need your help one day.

Reference and Additional Reading

Why You Should Spring Clean In January

My entire adult life, I have made a habit of spring cleaning during the Christmas holidays between December and January. In South Africa, we’re well into summer by then, so it might seem strange at first, but here’s why it makes perfect sense:

1. The Luxury of Time

Although I spring clean around September when it’s actually spring, I consider that Spring Cleaning Lite (patent pending). Weekends are precious and I wouldn’t dream of initiating a spring clean during the week. However, during the holidays I have nothing but time on my hands. Although it’s important to rest during the festive period, for me, it’s equally important to use the time to get my life on track. This year, I spent two days cleaning and organising, and afterwards, I felt like I was one step closer to starting the year off right. But even if the year has started, it’s worth taking time to get on top of things before the chaos begins.

2. Clear Headspace

During the year, it’s often difficult to focus. There is so much going on that you end up juggling work, family, friends, finances, your household, etc. Without the distractions for 1 million other things you should be doing, you can focus your time and energy on getting things in order, which is going to make you happier and feel more in control.

3. Renewed Focus

The end of the past year and start of the new one brings about a clarity. Whether we admit it or not, we look at our lives at this time and most of us reassess our lifestyles. You think of things you want to change, things you want to leave in the past year, or things you want to work harder at. You can use that clarity in sorting through what should stay and what should go in the new year. You’ll also find that you come across things you completely forgot you had, like the arts and crafts supplies you were going to use but didn’t have the time for. Or the sweater you love but now fits a little too snuggly. Use this time to realign your goals and as a part of designing the life you want.

4. Energy Boost

If you do it right, the process can be invigorating. It’s exciting getting on top of things and once you’ve completed the task you will feel a sense of accomplishment that will empower you to take on the new year.

I speak from experience when I say the sacrifice of a day or two is well worth it. Don’t look at it as a waste of time you could be using to relax, but rather an investment in the year ahead. Starting the year on the right foot is crucial if you don’t want to burn out, and cleaning and organising can play a significant role in that. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore. Put on some music and get stuck in!

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” – Joe Paterno

Just for fun, here’s a video that always makes me laugh:

Four Benefits of Having a Tidy Workspace

Life is incredibly busy, overwhelmingly so at times. While we’re going about our days just trying to keep on top of everything, keeping a neat and organised desk is often the least of our worries. But, believe it or not, having an untidy environment is actually detrimental to productivity.

So without further ado, here are four benefits of having a tidy workspace:

  • How tidy your office and workspace is, reflects on your company and your professionalism as an individual. An untidy desk suggests that you are unorganised and may make people question your ability to prioritise and work effectively.
  • A neat and tidy workplace can be an excellent marketing tool, whether you’re trying to impress current or prospective clients, industry peers or even people you work with.
  • Reducing clutter reduces workplace stress. Papers, chords and other items contributing to clutter subconsciously add to anxiety. De-cluttering your environment helps you maintain focus, which helps you be more efficient and reduces stress.
  • There’s a direct correlation between a clean work environment and improved employee health. A clean environment can help reduce the risk of you getting sick.

So put down what you’re doing and take 5 minutes to tidy up a bit. Not only will it look better, but you’ll feel better.

Be Mindful. Be Generous. Be Grateful.

An important reminder to be grateful for what you have and be conscious of others.

How to Maintain a Healthy Balance

My picture of success is having a balance where all areas of my life compliment each other perfectly. Sometimes it’s necessary to reprioritise in order to cope or give special attention to an area we’re wanting to improve. If you’re spending more time at the office to earn that raise you’re hoping for then go for it. But ensure that what you neglect is not to your detriment.This is of course easier said than done. I’ve ready up

However, this is easier said than done. So I’ve read up on the topic and worked on a cycle that I believe can help achieve a healthy life balance.

How to Maintain a Healthy Balance:

  1. Assess What Matters Most to You – Summarise your life into categories. What would the categories be?
  2. Prioritise – If you had to represent that in a pie chart with percentile values of how much time you would ideally like to invest in them, what would that look like?
  3. Reprioritise – From time to time, you’ll need to adjust your focus. That’s okay, as long as long as you understand the implications of that choice.
  4. Monitor – After you’ve adjusted your priorities in accordance with your current goals, be aware of how the change has affected your life and consider the value that has been added or taken away from your overall happiness.
  5. Adjust – Reflect on how effectively you’re maintaining a healthy balance. Not having the time for something is not a good enough excuse. If it’s genuinely important to you, you’ll find the time for it. Assess where you are and where you want to be, then adjust accordingly.

It’s important to be introspective to see if we’re on track with our vision. If something isn’t working, change it. It’s that simple.

Tidy Space, Tidy Mind

In high school, I got into the habit of cleaning and tidying my room almost every weekend. This isn’t to say that it was necessary, but it just became a habit and even enjoyable pastime. Of course, as I’ve grown older, that doesn’t happen nearly as often because finding the time to take a few hours out of my weekend became more difficult. Let’s face it, life gets overwhelming sometimes and so other, more pressing things take preference. But every now and then, I make it a priority to set time aside to reorganize my space for one reason – to take control of my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but hear me out…

I think I owe this tendency, partly, to Monica from Friends. I’m a huge Friends fan and to this day, it is still my favourite sitcom of all time. I would watch back to back episodes in high school and as a result, certain aspects of the 6 character’s personalities stuck with me, influencing the person I am today. Although it is was a running joke throughout the show, Monica’s mentality of cleaning and tidying, in order to achieve a sense of calm and control, has always resonated with me and is probably the most influential notion that has stuck with me.

monica-friends-cleaning

Adulting is hard work and finding a balance between work, having a social life and other day-to-day responsibilities doesn’t always leave much time for making sure you spend enough time on yourself. I invest a lot of time in other areas of my life and often neglect my responsibilities to myself. For example, I am a hard worker and I believe that I have a very good work ethic, really pushing myself to be the best I can be. So I don’t mind putting in extra hours at the office. As it is work takes up the majority of my week, but I also have weekly YouTube videos that need to be recorded and edited as well as freelance work that takes up a lot of my free time. As a result, I often find myself putting off certain chores. I like having a neat living space, but sometimes it just isn’t a priority and so a pile of books on my desk, for example, becomes more excusable because (I think) I simply don’t have the time or it isn’t important. But this is actually a big problem.

“Usually we think of self-care only as eating well, getting enough exercise or rest; or service to others as working at a soup kitchen. But maintaining an upright environment, inner and outer, is the way to authentic happiness, which radiates out as genuine public service in myriad forms. The spaces we inhabit can inspire us to feel more whole, sane, relaxed and unencumbered – or the opposite.” – The Practical Psychology of Cleaning Your Room!

You see, your environment has a direct influence on the way you feel, which has an impact on your overall productivity/efficiency in all aspects of your life. Allowing ourselves to neglect minor, seemingly less important tasks actually gives them greater value, making small things feel like an even bigger chore than what they actually are. And, of course, a lot of small things combine to make one big thing. Not only is the accumulation of to-dos a problem, but because you know that this isn’t the way things should be, this adds to the stress you already have from other aspects of your life.

This isn’t the case for everyone, though. Some people tend to flourish in a messy space. For example, creatives by nature go against conventional reasoning. So going against the societal norm of being organised, having a messier environment (workspace and/or living space) can be more conducive to their creativity. Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

So, what it the moral of the story?

Get to know yourself. It’s important to gauge the impact of your environment on your effectiveness and adjust accordingly. If you’re truly perfectly content with living or working in an untidy environment and either benefit or aren’t affected by the messiness, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you notice that an untidy environment makes you feel unorganised and heightens your anxiety, it’s time to reprioritise.